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on 29 August 2011
There is so much to like about this book I could gush for days but I'll try to be coherent. I've read Kate Harrison's adult books and I love her voice, which I'm delighted to see carries across to Soul Beach - her heroine Alice is vibrant and from the first page I cared about her and wanted to know what happened.
I don't want to reprise the plot because I think that might spoil the book, but from a great premise whereby Alice receives an e-mail apparently from her dead sister, Soul Beach built up in tension with lots of mystery (and a REALLY creepy villain) so by the end I was reading as fast as I could to find out what happened.
Harrison's writing style is so effortless (must take a lot of hard work!) and accomplished, it's a delight to read. Alice's doubts and concerns were real without being overplayed, and her growing feelings for the boy she can't have (hmm, or can she?) were beautifully handled. Harrison's sat nav scene will make me smile every time I turn mine on now, and the "showdown" scene was so poignant, I read it with tears in my eyes - the damage people do without a thought, I really ached for all her characters.
And now, a word on Lewis - can I put in my bid first to be captain of the Lewis appreciation society? He was an absolute delight from the moment he stepped onto the page. If Alice doesn't want him I'll have him!
As for the major mystery: who killed Meggie. Well, I know whodunnit. I know I know, I know I do! Honestly, I got chills so I have to be right! Except ... I've got to wait until July 2012 for the next one to find out if I'm right? Really?
*Sigh, grump and slouch off to my room in a huff*
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Start of a new trilogy for young adult readers. A story that is set in present day London and has elements of both detective story and science fiction. It's probably best suited for those aged fourteen and up due to some rather mature themes and moments. But it's good enough to be enjoyed by those much older as well.

It's all about Alice. Who narrates the story in first person present tense. She is the younger sister of Megan. Who'd found fame as star of a reality tv talent show. And then as a murder victim. A case that remains unresolved.

Alice has a lot to deal with. Coming to terms with her loss. The fact that her sister is no longer around. The police yet to close the case. And her parent's reaction to everything.

Then she gets an e mail from her dead sister.

Replying leads her to find that Megan is still alive. After a fashion. In a virtual online world. A tropical beach. Where nobody gets old. Or leaves. And where asking tricky questions can land you in trouble.

As Alice reconnects with her sister via this new world, and the people she meets there, how will her life in the real world be affected? And will she find who killed Megan?

This has sixty very short chapters - plus the occasional short interlude between them, which is told from the viewpoint of the murderer, and which some may find ever so slightly disturbing - and it has very good and clear prose which means that the pages turn rapidly.

They also do that because this is a pretty compelling read, with a lot of involving elements. A story of coming to terms with loss. About learning to value life, because the real world is better than any virtual one could be. And an intriguing mystery with it, both in regards to Megan's death and the world in which she now exists. Alice is a compelling lead character who you can sympathise with. And some of the supporting cast are very appealing as well, in particular her free spirited best friend and a computer genius who comes to her aid.

This is the first volume in a trilogy and thus there are a few big questions still to answered at the end. I look forward to finding out what happens next.
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I love the concept of Soul Beach, the idea of some kind of virtual world where your soul goes after you die isn't one I haven't come across before and although it's creepy it is also fascinating. The beach is portrayed as perfect but for the "Guests" they soon start to get bored of doing the same thing day in and day out, I have to say I don't think I'd want to spend much time there!

Alice is struggling to deal with the aftermath of her sister's murder. The police haven't found Megan's killer and her family is falling apart around her so when she realises she can keep in contact with Megan through Soul Beach she jumps at the chance of spending time with her. The more time Alice spends with Megan and her friends the more real the virtual world becomes, soon Alice is obsessed with spending time there and starts to push away her school friends. It is easy for the reader to see that Alice is spending an unhealthy amount of time with her sister and it makes you think about how hard it would be to let someone go if you were still able to contact them.

I enjoyed the mystery side to the story, Alice is trying to work out who killed her sister but she is also investigating the cause of Megan's friend Triti's death. I did find myself frustrated at the end of the book when I was left with so many unanswered questions, I hadn't realised until then that this is the first book in a trilogy though so at least I know there are more books to come. I have had my suspicions about so many different characters when it comes to who killed Megan that I really have no idea who it will turn out to be!

I did have a problem believing how real Soul Beach became to Alice, she mentioned feeling the breeze and the spray from the ocean on her face but really she was sitting in her room in front of her laptop. I was also frustrated with the romance, why do the main characters always have to fall for the one person the can't have? I'd have preferred no romance to the one we got, or I'd have been happy to see a romance start to develop between Alice and Lewis. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things progress in the next book.

If you're looking for something completely different then I'd definitely recommend giving Soul Beach a try. The story is fairly fast paced and despite being a long book it was a quick and enjoyable read.
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on 23 February 2012
Picked this book up mid afternoon, and literally could not put it down until I finished it six hours later. It's a brilliant concept, which I can't believe hasn't been thought of before. Making a virtual online world into a 'real' other wordly limbo land. It's such a compelling idea with loads going on, making it a superb page-turner.
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on 22 July 2012
I was not going to read this book as it said Young Adult fiction, but I thought, what the hell!I have finished every other Kate Harrison book and need a new one. I loved Harry Potter and thats for children! I am so glad I did, it is a fabulous story and I cannot wait to read the other 2 in the Trilogy. I have never read anything like it to be honest but it is based around young adults whose lives have ended abruptly, the internet and reality TV......I will not say any more, read it. You wont be disappointed whatever your age.
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on 17 September 2011
Having previously read and enjoyed Kate Harrison's Secret Shopper series, I was incredibly excited to find out that she had written her debut YA novel, being published under new publishing umbrella Indigo. Kate Harrison seems to have a real talent for weaving mesmerising and enjoyable stories with wonderfully written characters and 'Soul Beach' was no exception. When I'm reading thrillers, the one thing I expect is to be sucked into the story and to have to read just one more chapter and then one more because it's so good that I can't put it down. I wasn't disappointed because 'Soul Beach' delivered exactly that.

The story is centered around teenager Alice, whose sister Megan was murdered. The police haven't yet been able to track down her killer. Alice's whole life has been turned upside down since her sister's death. Her parents are each coping with the event in their own way and Alice is still grieving for the big sister that she admired and looked up to. When she receives an invitation to Soul Beach from her dead sister she discovers a virtual world unlike any other and her own life begins to pale in comparison.

I loved the whole concept of a cyber or virtual world full of the souls of the dead. Soul Beach is like the limbo between heaven and hell and the souls there are unable to move on because their deaths are either unresolved or something in their previous lives has been left incomplete. There's irony in the fact that this is depicted as being somewhat of a paradise island or an idyllic place where the sun always shines and the sea is always blue and yet underneath the surface it's far from this. Alice starts to become more and more obsessed with spending time there with her sister and with the other people she meets, including cute and kind Danny, who she begins to develop romantic feelings for and Triti, another teenage girl who sets Alice on the path to discovering a secret about Soul Beach itself.

The story is well plotted and interspersed throughout are small fragments of the thoughts of the person that killed Megan. I have my suspicions about who it might be but at the end of the book we're still left guessing, which is incredibly frustrating as I'm dying to know! However, the secret of a good murder mystery is to always leave the reader in suspense throughout and that's definitely the case here.

Kate Harrison has bridged the gap between the adult and YA genres perfectly with a fascinating exploration of life after death. There's romance, mystery and plenty of thrills along the way in this brilliant book which will draw you in and then leave you wanting more!
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on 29 August 2011
Soul Beach was a thrilling, heart-stopping and romantic read.

Our protagonist is sixteen year old Alice who is grieving for her big sister, Meggie. Four months ago, Meggie was strangled...and the killer hasn't been caught. Just when Alice thinks her life is slowly starting to move forward again, it is thrown straight back into a loop by the arrival of an email. From her sister.

Alice receives an invite to the elusive social network site, Soul Beach, where she can talk once again with her sister. At first she believes it is a sick joke and ignores it, but when she hears the plea of her sister, Alice cannot ignore it.

Soul Beach becomes a morbid fascination for Alice. Full to the brim of the young and beautiful, and dead, the Beach becomes more real to her than her own reality. It seduces her senses and while she is fully grounded in her room, earphones in and looking at the laptop screen, she can almost feel the warmth from the sun, feel the sand beneath her feet and hear the gentle slapping of the waves.

In her own reality, Alice's friends are losing patience. Almost overnight Alice loses what progress she made over the death of Meggie and becomes a recluse - her own priority the Beach. But the people on the Beach are eager for Alice to return to her reality - to help them...and undercover the truth behind their deaths. Because no one who died of natural causes is on the Beach.

Soul Beach was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. With random excerpts from the killer's perspective, it gives the book a certain fearful reality to it, and how people we encounter everyday are capable of brutal acts. Most importantly it shows us how fragile life can be.

I adored Alice and sympathised with her as she battled to keep up a normal façade when she is feeling anything but. She is a motivated character and well driven, and I cannot wait to see where ends up in the second instalment of this new trilogy.

Soul Beach has something for everyone - sadness, piles of emotion, murder mystery and an impossible romance. We were left with a heck of a cliff-hanger that ensures the wait till the next book will be excruciating indeed.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love Kate Harrison's Secret Shopping series. I also love Young adult books too. So Harrison's first venture into the YA market seemed a good choice and I was looking forward to it.

The story is a strange one, and certainly not something I've come across before. Teenagers who have died tragically and with unresolved issues find themselves on soul beach, and family members can find them through an interactive website. Given the popularity of role play gaming and how involved some people become in these virtual worlds, it's a clever idea.

However, I didn't really love it as much as I thought I would. It lacked some believability for me, something which is essential when creating unknown worlds. At times it bordered on the ridiculous. I loved some of the ideas behind it, and I enjoyed the tenseness throughout the pages. I like how harrison took a serious teen issue and blended that into the story too with care and thought. I just didn't like the concept of Soul Beach itself.

Kate Harrison's writes well, the story is easy and quick moving and it does have some thought provoking and tense moments. It was just a little too unbelievable for me. I may follow the next book in the trilogy to see if these issues are resolved.
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on 16 May 2012
Every one else has pretty much explained what the book is about and i'd just like to add that I found myself thinking about the characters after i'd finished, always a sign to me of a good book and i loved this one.

Great characters, exciting plot, intriguing idea of a limbo heaven where the 'beautiful people' with unresolved deaths go.... definately worth a read.
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on 18 October 2011
Soul Beach's concept is unlike any book I have read in the past. A suspense thriller with some social networking thrown in. Intriguing and addictive. So much so I did not want this book to end, ever. I become obsessed with the world in which is created and the characters within it.

The book is told from Alice's point of view, she is 16 and recently lost her older sister Megan. Megan was murdered and no-one has been brought to justice for this crime. It is hard going on her parents, a father who has buried himself in work and a mother who has turned to the help and became a little obsessed with support groups. Megan, however was no ordinary girl, she was an up and coming star, one whom had one a tv talent show for her singing. A bit like Britain's Got Talent. Megan was beautiful and sung like and angel, she had a huge following, but she kept her feet on the ground and was still attending university. She had a boyfriend, who is top suspect but with no proof the police are unable to hold him.

Alice has always lived in her sisters shadow, however she is not ready to taken advantage of her sisters death and shine in her own light. She misses her sister and when an email comes through from her sister inviting her to join her on Soul Beach, how could she refuse.

Alice is a fantastic main character, she is a bit geeky and brainy but still a down to earth girl, you would like to befriend. She has been through so much and has lost her way. Leaving her long term boyfriend, school and her friends on the back burner, while she explores the world of Soul Beach. She becomes obsessed with Soul Beach, it would be hard not to.

There are so many twists and turns along the way, including some chapters from the killers point of view, thrown in to keep you riveted. I don't want to spoil the world of Soul Beach, you have to learn all about it for yourself. Alice plays detective with a lot more than the mystery of her sisters killer to solve.

The ending wrapped it up a little, but I was left gasping for more. I want to know if the characters are ok, what will happen next? I cannot wait for book two.

What can I say, you should read this book. Kate Harrison's has written a flow, fast passed and riveting novel, a real page turner. There is something in it for everyone, a teen suspense thriller which will leave you wondering about social networking and where it could all lead.
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